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Miles Metcalf, or how the city of York defied Henry VII…

Medieval York

In a book called The Fifteenth Century – 3: Authority and Subversion, edited by Linda Clark, there is an interesting essay by James Lee entitled Urban Recorders and the Crown in Late Medieval England. I have taken from the article to illustrate the situation of the city of York with regard to the vital position of recorder. Specifically, an incumbent by the name of Miles Metcalf (of whom, regretfully, I have been unable to find a portrait).

York Minster

The rise of the recorder (a large number of whom were professional lawyers) came about because of provincial towns’ need to ensure their lines of communication with the central authorities were both adequate and secure. This was in order to push for their own demands and to respond to those of central government. Such matters were especially important at times of a change in dynasty, when recorders were, essentially, go-betweens or intermediaries between urban and central government. They were also sources of news. For instance, after the Battle of Stoke in 1487, the York council received notification of Henry VII’s victory from ‘the mouthe of a servaunt of master recorder coming strught from the said field’.

medieval messenger

Some recorders found themselves with unenviable tasks, such as the one in York in 1471 who had to meet Edward IV at the gates of the city to tell him he was not welcome. After the Battle of Tewkesbury a few months later, Edward was, of course, very welcome.

EIV landing Ravenspur - 1471

The recorders’ offices provided consistent and detailed corporation records, especially from the towns of Coventry, York and Norwich, and to a lesser extent from Exeter and Bristol. Recorders had considerable social status, not only in urban politics, but often on the national scene as well, and the rise of their individual careers took many of them to high places. Perhaps the most famous example is Thomas Cromwell, who was recorder at Bristol from 1553-40. Some became attorney-generals and privy councillors, so for a privileged few, becoming a recorder was most certainly a useful rung on a lofty ladder.

Richard III - my composite

York enjoyed special relations with Richard III, who for many years, as Duke of Gloucester, lived in Yorkshire, where he was held in very high regard. The city of York was embroiled in an attempt to reduce its fee-farm (details of the dispute are to be found in L.C. Attreed, York’s Fee Farm and the Central Government). Richard III promised a reduction, but the civic authorities struggled through two more reigns before the matter was settled. Throughout this time, York’s recorders and representatives were involved in the very heart of government.

Good king Richard

The York recorder from 1477-86 was Miles Metcalf, who loaned Richard III £20 on one of the latter’s visits to the city, an act that is thought indicative of his particularly close relations with the king. The man’s later resistance to Tudor rule revealed him to be remained staunch for Richard. Metcalf’s career as recorder is of particular interest. His predecessor, Guy Fairfax, had let it be known that he intended to quit in 1477, and Richard III (Duke of Gloucester at the time) wanted Metcalf to take his place. There was no objection, and on 1st September 1477, Metcalf was ‘unanimously chosen in his [Fairfax’s] place’. Richard, Duke of Gloucester was popular and known to be a fair lord, so presumably this was why his wishes were accepted. And presumably Metcalf was the best man for the job.

Barley Hall, York

Then came 1485, Bosworth, and the usurper Henry VII’s attempts to be rid of Metcalf by nominating a man of his own, Richard Green, who was a counsellor of the Earl of Northumberland. Henry wished Green to be in office “‘unto such tyme as it shall pleas the kings highnesse to call Miles Metcalfe, late occupying the said office unto his grace and favour’.

In the Days of Our Forefathers: Britain Becomes a Maritime Power

Metcalf family loyalty could not be reconciled with the Tudor regime and Henry was particularly scathing in his condemnation, proclaiming that he ‘hath done moch ayenst us which dishableth hyme to exercise things of auctoritie concernyng an hool commonaltie, which by his sedicious means might…and falle to diverse inconvenients’. A proclamation of 24th September 1485 excluded Metcalf and his brother Thomas from a general pardon, although both did receive pardons on 29th November following. Thomas was saved from execution by producing his pardon from the king.”

pardoned

[Henry’s man, Green] “was duly appointed by the city authorities but only on a temporary basis, until Metcalf was restored to favour. However, Green, Northumberland and Henry seem to have assumed that his office was now secured permanently. The city’s authorities procrastinated in clarifying the issue, buying time for the return of senior members of their council and also for the chance to discuss the matter with the Archbishop of York.

“When they reached their decision, it was a rebuff for Henry. The corporation promised to consider the king’s will in the matter and, as a gesture of reconciliation, elected Green as a counsellor. This, they claimed, would give them an opportunity to assess Green’s ‘demeanaunce and lernyng’ until Metcalf died and the vacancy arose.

“After the death of Metcalf on 19th February 1486, both Northumberland and Henry again made their nominations for the vacant position clear. In early March the earl again proposed Green, and the York council again delayed their decision. Even Northumberland’s wife became embroiled in the negotiations, calling before her members of the York hierarchy and urging them to leave the matter of the recorder in abeyance until she came unto York or wrote to the contrary. [She died 27th July 1485, so did not go anywhere. In fact, I do not see how she could have become involved after Metcalf’s death. If at all, it had to be before. Unless her date of death is incorrect.]

4th Northumberland

“By the end of the month the king had put forward the name of Thomas Middleton for the recordership. Perhaps this left the York authorities in an even more delicate position than before, as it would surely have been wholly inappropriate for them to favour one patron’s choice over another’s. This might explain the decision of the York council eventually to appoint John Vavasour, a relatively small political figure. Taken as a whole, such consistent royal interest in the position of recorder reminds us of the importance of the role in communications between the crown and the towns.

“[That this episode] occurred early in Henry VII’s reign may also be instructive with regard to Henry’s rather precarious position as a usurper with little in the way of local support. Henry was clearly very keen to impose his authority in a number of major towns, and regarded the appointment of recorders as an opportune means of achieving this.”

henry-Pietro-Torrigiano-bust

The struggles between York authorities and the crown continued, with the city making plain its determination to act independently, but I will end with Metcalf’s demise.

As Bacon’s oft-quoted assessment of Henry VII goes: ‘…as he governed his subjects by his laws, so he governed his laws by his lawyers’. Tudor oppression increased relentlessly. The entire realm must have regretted the loss of Richard III. York citizens certainly did, because in 1489, in protest against Henry VII’s punitive taxes, they murdered the Earl of Northumberland, who had failed Richard III at Bosworth and become a Tudor toady.

 

RICHARD III IN EXETER–A PAINTING DISCOVERED

After Buckingham’s rebellion, Richard III rode west from Salisbury, where he’d ordered the faithless Duke executed (interestingly, IMO, on the birthday of the elder ‘Prince in the Tower’ which may well be significant–who knows!) and eventually reached the town of Exeter, after mopping up the last of the rebellion…and the rebels.

Although Exeter is not generally known for its Ricardian connections, it would seem there are more than one might think, not just in the way of medieval buildings Richard would have seen but in later artworks that commemorated his brief stay.  For instance, there is Victorian stained glass window found in the Mercure Hotel, originally called the Rougemont after the castle where Richard supposedly misheard the name as ‘Richmond’ and became very sorrowful since he knew he would not live long after seeing Richmond. (A tale that is without a doubt apocryphal!) The window was prized enough to be removed and hidden during WWII in case of bomb damage to the hotel.

It had also come to my attention that a Victorian era a painting also exists showing Richard’s arrival in the city through the East Gate. Both the painting and the stained glass show a young, upright King Richard–no Shakespearean limping monster here, despite the time in which both pieces were created! The painting is particularly interesting in its use of colour and the depiction of motifs such as Richard’s boar–being quite bright and airy, it has an almost modern feel as opposed to the more usual darkly-hued, melodramatic Victorian art on historical subjects.

The artist was George Townsend and the picture called ‘The East Gate , Exeter, and the Arrival of King Richard, 1483.’

http://rammcollections.org.uk/object/drawing-220/

exeterng-220

Details about various Ricardian places and items of interest in Exeter have been published in a booklet by Ann Brightmore-Armour; further research is ongoing.

r3-in-exeter

sam_2660

A sampler showing some of the events of 1483 in Exeter

Thanks to Ian Churchward of Richard The Third Records for his information on the Exeter painting, window and booklet.

 

 

 

A day out in Exeter

THE LEGENDARY TEN SECONDS ~ performance at Exeter’s Picturehouse – 6th November 2016

 

As always, it was a pleasure to sing with Ian Churchward, founding member of The Legendary Ten Seconds at the Picturehouse in Exeter – a wonderful, arty location that always provides a warm welcome.

 

We were joined by lovely staff from the Somerset & South West Scoliosis Association UK who brought balloons, cakes, sweets and donation pots. It was great to help raise awareness of the charity and perform Ian’s well written songs about Richard III. An author called Philip Photiou also brought along copies of his Wars of the Roses novel to sell at the event.

 

Rob Stroud on electric guitar and Lord Zarquon on keyboards created a powerful landscape to accompany the historical narratives. Their solos were magnificent.

 

We had a nice sized audience including the artist Georgie Harman who is contributing to the new artwork for the forthcoming Sunnes and Roses album by The Legendary Ten Seconds.

 

Ian introduced his songs with a background of the history and how he came to write it, giving a nice context to each piece.

 

A particular highlight was singing The Year of Three Kings with its catchy sing-along chorus. We sang it for a second time as part of an encore with a much more positive and audible response from the audience second time around, proving how catchy the songs are.

 

Ian chose songs from the first, second and third albums to sing at Sunday’s event, calling me up onstage accordingly. My vocals are on the 2nd and 3rd albums and I have sung most of the songs from the 1st album live, but did not know Ian at the time to record on the 1st album.

 

After a break from the band to focus on my acting ventures I was delighted to re-join this group of talented musicians for a gig at the Picturehouse, where it all began. Ian and I used to sing around 5 songs as part of a music evening consisting of different musicians. It was fantastic to perform a longer set this time with the whole band.

 

Camilla Joyce oct-16-poster-for-ricardian-albums wrathofkingsimage-poster-06-nov-16

 

WRITTEN AT RISING

 

LORD ANTHONY WOODVILLE

 

HOUSE OF YORK

 

THE LADY ANNE NEVILLE

 

FELLOWSHIP OF THE WHITE BOAR

 

KING IN THE CAR PARK

 

HOW DO YOU REBURY A KING

 

RAGGED STAFF instrumental

 

THE GOLD IT FEELS SO COLD

 

THE COURT OF KING RICHARD III

 

THE YEAR OF THREE KINGS

 

SHAKESPEARE’S RICHARD

 

ACT III SCENE IV

 

WHITE SURREY

 

AMBION HILL 

 

SHERIFF HUTTON

 

Where’s Henry?

henry-vii-statue-exeter

In life, Henry VII was renowned for fighting his battles from a deckchair, behind a pike wall with a telescope. Even some of his statues are behaving similarly now.

The best example is, or was, in Exeter. It commemorated the two sieges of the city in 1497 when the two Cornish Rebellions were kept out but proceeded towards London, the First with more success than the Second. Henry held court here for a month that autumn. The first statue stood near Eastgate until 1784 and then moved to High Street until it was destroyed during the Blitz. The 1950s fibreglass replacement, designed by Sonia Newton, was displayed at Princesshay until 2005, when a new shopping centre took priority and he is in hiding somewhere in Belle Isle.

 

New Richard III Memorial To Be Revealed

Back in April we reported that Bridport had recently discovered that in 1483 Richard III had visited the city on his way to Exeter to crush Buckingham’s rebellion and decided to commemorate this with a stone memorial. We are pleased to reveal that the initiative was successful and that the memorial will be revealed to the public on the 533rd anniversary of the event on Saturday, 5th November, at 2pm by the East Bridge. Sir Philip Williams, the High Sheriff of Dorset, and John Collingwood, the Bridport Town Crier, will be attending the unveiling.

The memorial was funded with donations from members of the public in the UK and abroad. It has been crafted by Master Stone Masons Christine and Karl Dixon from white Portland stone and, as well as containing relevant details, also depicts Richard’s white boar and his personal motto “Loyaulté me lie”. It will be placed beside the River Asker and facing the oriel window, which is one of the few remnants of the Priory of St John the Baptist where Richard is thought to have lodged.

You can find out more details about the initiative and Richard’s visit to Bridport here.

Richard III stained glass window in Exeter (by Ian Churchward)

exetercathedralI thought I was very well acquainted with the local history of Exeter where I was born and where I have been working on and off for the last seventeen or so years. I also thought I had found out everything I could about the places of interest relating to Richard III in Exeter. I was therefore amazed and exceedingly pleased to discover earlier this year that there is a beautiful stained glass window of Richard III in a hotel in Exeter that is only a few minutes walk from my office where I work. I recently mentioned this window to one of the founding members of the Devon & Cornwall branch of the Richard III society who also had not known about this Ricardian item of interest.

 

I happened to find out about this window by accident when I stumbled across a reference to it on an obscure web page which had been posted by the USA branch of the Richard III society. The window is located in the Mercure Exeter Southgate Hotel and depicts Richard III visiting Rougemont Castle in Exeter in November 1483. The hotel was originally the Rougemont Hotel and the window was designed by Frederick Drake. There is an inscription under the window which recalls a scene from Shakespeare’s Act 4, Scene 2 which reads as follows “When last I was at Exeter the mayor in courtesy show’d me the castle and call’d it Rougemont at which name I started because a bard of Ireland told me once I should not live long after I saw Richmond”

 

During the Second World War the window was removed and placed in a cellar for safety. This was a wise precaution because the centre of Exeter suffered considerable damage due to German air raids in the 1940’s. It can be found on the first floor level at the top of a central staircase. The hotel is in Queen Street just off the main shopping high street and opposite Exeter Central railway station.

Richard III, a book signing by Philip Photiou, and the music of the Legendary Ten Seconds, all in one occasion….

ExHere is an event to be attended if anyone possibly can. And there will be the music of the Legendary Ten Seconds to make it even better!

wrathofkingsimage-poster-06-nov-16

Henry carved in stone…

exeter

Oh, dear, In Pembroke they want a statue of Henry Tudor. The thing is, if the real man stood on a plinth, would we be able to tell he wasn’t the statue? I mean, he always looks “carved in stone” to me…

http://www.tenby-today.co.uk/article.cfm?id=102491&headline=Maquette%20unveiling%20marks%20launch%20of%20Henry%20VII%20statue%20campaign&sectionIs=news&searchyear=2016Happy Henry

There was a stone statue of Henry VII in Exeter, near Eastgate, but it seems to have been lost during the Blitz. A fibreglass version was then erected near Princesshay (top), but that was removed in 2005 and is in cold storage. Perhaps someone is trying to tell us something?:
http://www.exetermemories.co.uk/em/_art/henry7.php

Similarly, there is one in Hay-on-Wye, described as looking like “a ghost in a nightdress”.

An interesting article about Exeter and the rebellions

Very good although it makes an assumption about “Perkin”‘s identity:
http://www.devonperspectives.co.uk/exeter_1497.html

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